Bar Italia played Brighton Music Hall – 12/5

U.K. trio Bar Italia made their Boston debut with support from NYC’s Gobby.


It’s been a pretty big year for Bar Italia, the indie-post-punk trio of Londoners Nina Cristante, Sam Fenton and Jezmi Fehmi. They signed to the venerable Matador Records back in March, released not one, but two, full-lengths in the interim and played their first stateside shows since rising up from a swirl of Dean Blunt-affiliated pandemic-era mystery. May’s Tracey Denim and last month’s The Twits showcase all facets of the band’s catchy, textured and tantalizingly eerie sound, delivering on their early buzz with a prolific outpouring of quality tunes.

Following a short string of New York and L.A. shows over the summer, the band embarked on a proper tour this month that brought them to Boston’s Brighton Music Hall last Tuesday night. The room was, unsurprisingly, pretty packed and buzzing by the time they hit the stage, and the breathless assembled were hanging on from the first note. Joined by a rhythm section, the trio expanded to quintet and sounded pretty spectacular as they ran through a Twits-heavy setlist with a brisk, no-frills efficiency. The band have gone on the record about shaking their air of mystery, but for this gig at least, their stage presence retained the enigma (outside of a quick greeting and a fruitless request for angles the BMH lighting rig couldn’t accommodate).

Thusly they played, under a dim and unchanging red light that made the room feel more intimate than it is, with Cristante, Fenton and Fehmi exchanging lead roles as a collective moreso than a group with any defined frontperson. Their songs, too, continued to resist conventions and categorization in a live setting. Both retro and modern, melodic and scuzzy, direct and cryptic, the oeuvre exhibited a kind of sexy ambiguity that’s key to Bar Italia’s allure and ascent.

Opening the show was solo NYC experimentalist Gobby, who drew on the dungeon-synth-derived sound of last year’s Ancient Moods for a shadowy set of electronic and muted-trumpet soundscapes. The project’s top Bandcamp recommendation cites it as “good questing music,” and I probably can’t put it any more accurately than that.

Scroll below for a gallery of both sets.